The City Council Seems To Have Lost Its Grip On Reality With Its Latest Motions On Street Vending — They Want To Keep All Previously Proposed Exclusionary Zones But Change Justification From “Zillionaires Asked For It” To “Objective Health, Safety, Or Welfare Concerns” — And Paul Koretz — Who Evidently Doesn’t Believe That Words Have Meaning — Wants To Exclude A Bunch Of BIDs On The Same Implausible Grounds — This Is Obviously Going To End Up In Court

As you no doubt know, the City of Los Angeles has been arguing about legalizing street vending for years in the face of fiercely unhinged opposition to the very idea from business improvement districts and other organized gangs of zillionaire thugs. But then the whole debate was mooted by a lightning strike from Sacramento in the form of Ricardo Lara’s SB-946, signed into law by Jerry Brown in September, which imposed a set of really stringent restrictions on the form that municipal street vending regulation can take. And not surprisingly, pretty much every dirty trick that the BIDs and their buddies forced into our City’s proposal was banned by Lara’s bill.

In particular, the BIDdies had managed to get the Council to agree that street vending could be banned in any neighborhood in Los Angeles merely because their councilmember asked for it. This serves BIDdies well, of course, because their repsters will do whatever it is that they ask in order to keep the firehose of campaign contributions turned up to eleven. By the end there they’d managed to enshrine such indefensible no-vending zones as Hollywood Boulevard and recommend that BIDs should be able to charge vendors for the privilege of operating on public streets.1

But this nonsense was switched right off by Lara’s bill, which states unequivocally that:

A local authority shall not require a sidewalk vendor to operate within specific parts of the public right-of-way, except when that restriction is directly related to objective health, safety, or welfare concerns.

And right after the bill was signed it appeared as though our esteemed City Council was taking this matter seriously. They passed a motion ordering the City Attorney to draft an ordinance that would comply with Lara’s law. But such sporadic spurts of sanity swiftly scatter around here.

And thus it wasn’t really a surprise to hear renowned bigamist and CD9 repster Curren Price on the radio yesterday talking about how Council would be able to keep all the previously proposed no-vending zones and even add more and the only difference would be, according to super-genius Curren Price, that “now we’re going to have to base them on health, safety, and welfare concerns.”2 And turn the page to read all about the drastically deep dive into the crazy vat revealed by this one little stray comment!

When I got home and looked at the Council files3 it wasn’t a traffic-jam-induced nightmare after all. In fact Council met yesterday and started popping in no-vending zones at the behest of their moron zillionaire BIDdie constituencies right and freaking left. And all of them, because that’s what the state law says, are to be justified by “objective health, safety, or welfare concerns.”

Just look! Here’s Mike Freaking Bonin’s motion to make the Venice Beach Boardwalk a no-vending zone. And how’s that going to be justified, you know, objectively? It’s not, that’s how. It’s ridiculous to even try to claim that some extra heladeros on the Boardwalk are going to cause disease, danger, and whatever the opposite of welfare is.

But as crazy as Mike Bonin is, and as we have seen, that’s pretty darn crazy, Paul Koretz was the one who really rang the crazy bell yesterday. He took a little break from his years-long obsession with Billy the Freaking Elephant and introduced this motion to exclude a bunch of BIDs from legal street vending. That’s right, friends. Paul Koretz has all but announced his intention to argue, in public no less, that “objective health, safety, or welfare concerns.” prevent people from selling popsicles or tamales on the streets of the Melrose BID, the Westwood BID, and the freaking Encino Commons BID.

But we should take the language of the law seriously. Really, that’s how one has to read laws — as if the words mean what they mean and the sentences mean what they mean, then there’s really no way to plausibly argue that “objective health, safety, or welfare concerns” about fruit carts apply in a whole BID. BIDs just aren’t designed to support that kind of argument.

If the law is referring to anything, and one has to assume that laws are, it means places like Laurel Canyon Boulevard between Hollywood Boulevard and wherever the sidewalks start to the North. Everyone will die if a heladero tries to walk through there. And there are other places in the City like that. Cahuenga Boulevard between Highland and Barham. You know what I mean. It’s objectively not safe to push carts along a high-speed high-volume street with no sidewalks and traffic lanes right up to the curb.

But there are no “objective health, safety, or welfare concerns” on Melrose Avenue, not in the part that’s not in the BID, not in the part that is in the BID. Nowhere. It’s nonsense. And the other proposals are just as freaking nonsense. And the fact that the City Council feels emboldened to pursue this kind of pernicious nonsense even after it was precisely this kind of clueless zillionaire-pandering hubris that brought Lara’s wrath down upon them shows that they don’t think the laws apply to the City of Los Angeles, that they don’t think that the plain language of the statute says what it says.

And especially that they don’t think they’re going to get sued yet again for violating the rights of sidewalk vendors, who have an extraordinary array of really competent lawyers backing them. But they are. And they don’t care. After all, it’s not their money. I thought briefly in September that they’d come to their senses, but it looks like I was fooled yet again. ‘Twas ever thus.


Image of Paul Koretz is ©2018 MichaelKohlhaas.Org and it’s a little somewhat kinda you know like this guy here.

  1. In yet another uncharacteristic flash of sanity, the City Clerk’s office reported back to City Council shooting down that particular slab of lunacy with an unequivocal “uh, no.”
  2. I’m sorry I don’t have anything to link to here. I heard the guy talking on KNX while I was driving home yesterday.
  3. There are a bunch of them at this point. The original is CF 13-1493 and by now there are five supplemental files, at S1, S2, S3, S4, and S5.
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